The Starting Rotation Analysis

Sunday, July 17, 2022
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2022

Last Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished their first half of the 2022 season with the best record in the National League. Since then, the Dodgers continued winning. While many Dodger fans think their favorite team has not played that well, they have overcome many injuries.

Before spring training began and the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman, most baseball pundits thought the Dodgers would be the best team in the National League if their starting rotation would be adequate. On paper, the Dodger starting rotation was weak. Most Dodger starters have performed above expectations.

The Dodger starting rotation has the lowest ERA in baseball. Despite having a poor start against the St. Louis Cardinals though he went five innings, Tony Gonsolin has the most wins and the second lowest ERA in the National League. He has given the Dodgers an opportunity to win in his starts. His super performance warranted Gonsolin’s first All-Star selection.

After having his first forearm injury in 2021, Clayton Kershaw’s potential performance during the 2022 season was unknown. To recover from the injury, Kershaw underwent a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection last October and did not pick up a baseball until January. The delayed spring training helped Kershaw to be ready for the start of the season. From his first start against the Minnesota Twins where he had seven no-hit innings, he has performed great, except for his start in Colorado. He missed a month with an inflamed SI joint. Kershaw’s dominant 2022 season where he became the Dodger franchise strikeout king earned his ninth All-Star selection, and many Dodger fans, including myself, want the Atlanta Braves’ manager Brian Snitker to name Kershaw as the National League All-Star starter.

Although Walker Buehler hurled his first Major-League career complete-game shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks in April, at no time during the 2022 season, he looked like himself. His trademark four-seam fastball could not get anyone out. He relied on his secondary pitches, and he struggled. In an early June start against the San Francisco Giants, Buehler injured his flexor tendon and had a bone chip removed from his right elbow. The Dodgers hope Buehler will return in September.

At times, Julio Urías has pitched brilliantly, but at other times, he has toiled. Coming off a strenuous 2021 season where he pitched 185.2 innings, the most in his Major-League career, Urías sometimes looked exhausted and his velocity has dripped. True, Urías has not received adequate run support contributing to his 7 win and 6 loss record. If Urías suffers an arm injury, I would not be surprised.

When the Dodgers signed Tyler Anderson to a one-year deal, most Dodger fans thought Anderson would play a minor role in the Dodger season. During his tenure as President of Baseball Operations starting in 2014, Andrew Friedman has shown that he likes to build pitching depth in case of injury. Anderson has a pleasant surprise. With Andrew Heaney’s persistent shoulder inflammation, Anderson has been a blessing. His changeup has baffled almost every opponent. Anderson has a 10-win-and-1-loss record with a 2.96 ERA, and he has had the best first half of his Major-League career.

Since Heaney and Kershaw have missed significant time with their injuries, their injuries have given opportunities to Ryan Pepoit, Michael Grove, and Mitch White to start in the Major Leagues. White has impressed with his growth as a Major Leaguer. He has a 4.20 ERA.

The Dodgers need another dominant starter to make sure that their starting rotation can dominate through the postseason.

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